Entrepreneur James Henry has come a long way since the days of turning his ceiling into a speckled mess with a Soda Stream, trying to find the perfect carbonation level for his new alcoholic drink called Teavine.
Alcohol is that rare guest who is always welcome. While spirits tend to have an unspoken invite to any soiree, there is a downside not many people admit: alcohol isn’t exactly healthy. Many alcohol products contain preservatives, corn syrup, dyes and a lot of calories.
But Henry, a creative mind and a DC local, is giving health-conscious adults another choice. The 30-year-old from Cleveland Park concocted a mixture of tea and white wine infused with honey for a touch of sweetness. The result is Teavine, an idea that originated in college during one serendipitous lunch in France between Henry and a friend.
Although the idea marinated for many years, the concept fully bloomed recently Henry spent months cultivating the perfect recipe using all natural ingredients: organic green tea, organic honey, and a mix of viognier and traminette wines from an all-in-one winery, vineyard, brewery and distillery.
“My whole thing is ‘read the ingredients.’ If you can’t read it, don’t eat it,” says Henry, who released Teavine in March. “Your body isn’t made to metabolize all these things you can’t read.”
Teavine’s three ingredients are proudly displayed on the label, offering a simplicity that almost makes you do a double take.
“I kept the tea, wine and honey all at the same general level so that it would have its own flavor and one wouldn’t take over,” Henry explains. “I kept it balanced.”
The slightly carbonated beverage contains 6.5 percent alcohol per bottle and costs around $15.
The balanced flavor can be attributed to Henry’s obsession with the highest-quality ingredients. “I’m just a foodie,” he laughs, joking that as a young (and only) child he used to tell his mom he could cook his own food. “I was always making my own food, even if it wasn’t very good.”
Before Teavine, the self-proclaimed foodie, who is also an author, wrote, shot and directed documentaries. Now, he is knee-deep in the alcohol industry. If Henry isn’t holding Teavine tastings around the city or brewing up new ideas in his kitchen, you can likely find him at 2 Amys or his favorite Pho spot in Columbia Heights. They keep a bottle of special hot sauce on reserve just for him.
Whether it’s the fresh, all natural ingredients or the subtle taste of mixing white wine and green tea, Teavine pairs well with chicken, fish, berries and sharp cheese. The versatility also makes for great cocktails.
“It’s not a really overpowering flavor. It’s really easy to drink,” Henry says.
One of DC’s most beloved mixtresses, Gina Chersevani of Hank’s Oyster Bar on the Hill, created several Teavine cocktails with liquors like St. Germain, tequila, Absinthe and brandy. Henry says Teavine blends well with most drinks that use a splash of champagne, too.
A few restaurants and bars carry the new alcoholic drink, including Marvin on 14th Street, Alero Restaurant and Lounge, the Brixton, Masa 14 and L’Enfant Café in Dupont Circle.
Teavine is currently available in 40 different locations that sell beer, wine and liquor in DC, including Yes! Organic Market. Soon, the drink will spread to the rest of Virginia and break into neighboring states.
By year-end, Henry plans on expanding the Teavine line to include an elderflower flavor. He also has a few more alcoholic tea-inspired drinks percolating in his Bloomingdale home, all of which, of course will feature only fresh, organic ingredients.
Visit www.teavineisdivine.com for information about tastings and where to buy Teavine locally.